Thursday, January 31, 2008

Saying Goodbye to a Great Knitter

I'm really sad today to hear of the passing of Gigi Silva, AKA Monkey Toes, AKA Momma Monkey. She was the woman behind Socktopia and the creator of TONS of free sock patterns.

This sock here is called Bellatrix, one of her designs.

I don't know the details, other than that she died this weekend, as the result of complications arising from a long-term illness.

I didn't know her personally, but I was a fan.

I've always been impressed with her ability to turn out great patterns and then give them away.

Lately I've been overwhelmed with reading about paranoid copyright talk and bickering over how much one person should get paid for a pattern and getting lawyers for self protection... and here was someone who just shared her talents freely, with aloha.

I never really know what to say in times like this. There is a Sock shaped hole in my heart.

She has left an impressive legacy and she will be missed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monkey Socks!

Everybody is doing the Monkey. This is my first pair, but I now an official monkey maker.

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A.

Yarn: Wollmeise Sockenwolle. Color: Pfefferminz Prinz, Light.

Needles: Knitpicks Harmony Double pointeds, US size 1.5 (2.5mm)

Pattern Review: Fantastic pattern. I am already a fan of Cookie A socks, and the Monkey may be the very best.

The instructions are easy to follow and have great results. The socks are worked from the cuff down, though I have seen people work them toe-up. I have also seen people knit the purls for a very quick knit, but I basically followed the pattern as written.

Modifications: Just a couple of things to report. First, I did one extra lace repeat on the leg to make a slightly taller sock.

The bigger modification was what happened when I reached the toe and realized I knit one too many repeats on the foot. I could either:

1. Make a very big sock. A sideshow Bob kind of sock.

2. Frog back the last bit of knitting and start the toe decreases where they were supposed to go.

3. Work some drastic decreases to make a wedge-shaped toe and call it a day. (Of course I chose this option)

The toe looks a little funny because the lace continues until the end of the sock, but it fits well!

Yarn Review: The beloved Wollmeise. This is some pretty special yarn and I couldn't be happier with it. The colors are amazing and the feel is pleasant. The yarn base is composed of many plies, tightly spun. When washed, the socks soften up quite a bit.

I realize there is something obnoxious regarding bragging about hard to get yarn. And yet, I am doing it anyway.

Overall: Very bright, very cute, very fun. I used a very popular pattern with some highly coveted yarn, how could I fail? (Don't answer that)

I'm glad I was able to finally USE the Wollmeise. I was just leaving it on the shelf out of fear of ruining it.

Lesson of the day: Use your good yarn. If I can, you can.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fiber Friday 1/25/08

This is going to be one of those Fridays where I am counting down the minutes before I can leave work and go home.

Oh yeah, I am admitting this on the web... perhaps I want to get caught?

I want to share some roving I've dyed in the past for today's Fiber Friday post. Yarn is inspiring, sure, but sometimes roving is better.

I appreciate the potential in it. It's like a canvas or a fresh journal, ready to be taken over and imprinted. You need courage for this, and I find that inspiring.

Obviously I'm starting to get interested in spinning again. It's creeping into my mind from time to time so I know it's making a comeback.

I find that I usually have one big flow of creative energy and I channel it somewhere, like knitting or spinning, writing, playing music, etc. I can do all of these things just fair, but if I focus in on one activity, it's a lot better.

I've been knitting and writing patterns lately, but not much else. Good for productivity, but other things are on the backburner.

Looking at the quantity of yarn in my apartment, I think I have one more stash busting blanket in me this spring. Of course, a neverending blanket on the lap = crazymaking.

By the time I finish this kind of project, I'm usually turned off on knitting for a good long while.

But maybe not socks. I could probably knit socks through a heat wave or some such drama just fine!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Yarn sale alert!

Oh, that got your attention...? Depending on your current attitude towards stash enhancement you may or may not want to look away. I am about to share a yarn sale with you.

Sonny & Shear is having a sale. Use code Jan2008 to receive 15% off of the following….

Dream in Color Smooshy: Giant Peach
Dream in Color Smooshy: Spring Tickle
Dream in Color Smooshy: Night Watch
Dream in Color Smooshy: Good Luck Jade
Dream in Color Smooshy: Beach Fog
Dream in Color Smooshy: Visual Purple
Dream in Color Smooshy: Cool Fire
Dream in Color Smooshy: Blue Lagoon
Dream in Color Smooshy: Strange Harvest
Lorna’s Laces Shepherd sock: Watercolor
Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock: Envy
All closeout yarns
All Sea Coast Handpainted Superwash Sock

The sale is running through January 31, 2008.

They ship all domestic orders over $40.00 for free. Resistance is futile.

Obviously I've shopped here before and I must say Kris is fantastic. So, (all apologies to your bank account) what are you waiting for?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fiber Friday 1/18/08

Here I am, pretending I don't have a cold, revisiting some yarn I spun last year.

Because looking at pictures of yarn is fun, I'm going to make you reminisce with me.

Friday, June 29, 2007
I've only got one to show off today but I suspect I'll have loads once the Tour de Fleece begins in one week's time (yay!)

This little number here I spun as a gift to my good friend Brooke.

There is natural colored coopworth, hand-dyed green mill ends, mohair curls and recycled sari silk.

This style of yarn is part of a series I keep re-visiting by taking neutral colors and pairing them with shocks of something bright. I've made one blue and one orange previously.

I had the luxury of hand delivering this yarn while on vacation last week during the great NW odyssey adventure I took. That reminds me, Black Sheep Gathering pictures... to come!

Now that I'm writing about it, I admit I'm kinda sad to be back home in the heart of darkness. I miss the good living my friends have worked out in the great NW. The older I get, the more I appreciate the concept of quality of life.

I better start carving out pieces for myself no matter where I am. Fiber Friday is a little taste I get each week. Yum!


The news is out, I am moving to Portland soon. So I guess I am carving out pieces of the good life this year after all!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Monkey in progress

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A.

Yarn: Wollmeise Superwash Pfefferminz Prinz.

Needles: US 1.5 (2.5 mm) KnitPicks Harmony double pointed.

Enjoyment: High.

Monday, January 14, 2008

TNNA 2008 Report

It was awesome!

Imagine a giant convention center filled with yarn... pure insanity. Even my dreams have been infected with the enormity of it all.

I'll do my best to share my experience, but just know that I was half in shock the entire time. Be prepared for a random collection of witless thoughts.

Also, I'm only going to say nice things, because the show was a lot of fun for me!

Famous people: I spotted a few... Kaffe Fassett, Cookie A, Jess and Casey from Ravelry. I heard stories of more, but that was it for me. I mostly stared from afar, and especially loved seeing Kaffe knitting.

I actually spoke to Jess and Casey. I was feeling shy but I did it anyway and of course they were super nice. And cute. They gave me two enamel pins - one of the logo and one of their dog Bob. Love it.

I went to a couple of book signings... Mary Beth Temple (Secret Language of Knitters) and Share Ross (Punk Knits). Both were lovely and warm and friendly people and free books are cool.

I got to see some yarns in person that I've been curious about. Like the new 400 series of Dream in Color. Or Lorna's Laces green (as in "eco") yarns. I've only seen them online until now. There are more, of course, but my head hurts trying to remember.

Free stuff? Yes, some. The aforementioned books, assorted wool washes, color cards and sample skeins. I was pretty shy about asking for things, to be honest.

I have a new stash of Schaefer sock yarn to play with, and as soon as I finish the Monkey socks and the other socks I forgot about, I'm casting on!

Speaking of Schaefer yarn, a highlight for me was hanging out with Cheryl and Laura, catching pearls of wisdom as they dropped from the sky. Priceless!

There was a rule about not taking pictures inside which I obeyed, though I wish I hadn't. I'd love to show you what I'm talking about already.

What I learned: Yarn is great. Knitting is great. Knitters are great. Needlepoint looks interesting sometimes. I love yarn. A lot. Yarn people are mostly very nice. I am often socially awkward. I like looking at yarn. Yarn is nicer in person than on websites. Lots of yarn is overwhelming. I have a lot of yarn. I like getting more yarn.

I think I held my breath while I wrote this entire post. Breathing now.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fiber Friday 1/11/08

I have a serious case of Friday-itis today.

It might be because there is a yarn convention happening without me across town. Yes, I have a day job.

I will share with you what I can about TNNA after Sunday. Yesterday was a lot of fun but I'm going to really work it on Sunday.

Here is today's installment of Fiber Friday. It's a flashback to June. Ah, June.

Friday, June 01, 2007
Hello fellow Fiber Friday enthusiasts!

I have one skein of yarn to show off this week. It's a sky yarn with white coil clouds.

I didn't spin as much as I wanted to due to things like jury duty, bike shopping, house cleaning, and a bad toe.

I have some ideas for new yarns and I look forward to trying them out. I'm going to force myself to spin more to get out of the slump. I have to start gaining momentum for the second annual Tour de Fleece! (July - you have been warned)


I have updates on all of this. Jury duty? Didn't get picked, and took it personally.

Bike shopping? Bought a vintage Schwinn in June, sold it in December.

Bad toe? To clarify, I am not talking about fungus, so you don't have to get creeped out. It was a stubbed toe and the nail stopped growing and it hurt all of the time. And then one day it started growing again. You probably stopped reading this when I used the f-word.

Anyway, that worked out okay. Until about a month ago, when a different toe on the OTHER foot got bad in the same way. Why?

And finally, the Tour de Fleece... I know July is a long way away but I must tell you I already started a group on Ravelry. This year it will be bigger and better and over the coming months I will reveal it all.

You have been warned!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

TNNA eve

I'm going to my first TNNA tomorrow! (Yes, the trade show for knitters and yarn and other needle arts things)

...and I am going to make a horse's behind of myself. I just know it. Why do I know this?

Things I will try not to do tomorrow:

1. I hear it's overwhelmingly crowded. I tend to act like Dustin Hoffman a la Rain Man in big crowds.

2. Many famous knitters will be there. These are MY movie stars. I will stare at them, but shyness will keep me from talking coherently. Then I will try to take a picture on the sly and you know how that will turn out.

3. A convention center full of yarn? What if I panic and start fondling and sniffing some, uninvited? It happens.

4. I will meet new people. I will forget their names a nanosecond after I hear what they are.

5. I have to be in Long Beach at 8:30 am. Considering traffic, I will leave at 7. This means I will arrive 45 minutes early or about a half hour late.

6. The super cute business cards I ordered aren't here yet. I have to bring the weird, old ones. The few of them I have.

7. When I get nervous, I talk too much. And I accidentally curse sometimes. And say very personal things to strangers. That kind of thing.

8. I will get lost getting there. I will have a map, but I will get lost anyway. I always do. I will probably go into the wrong parking lot as well.

9. I will get lost INSIDE the trade show. I will find a way to do this.

10. I will think it's over and I'll leave. And that's when the amazing super cool fantastic event will happen. I'll read about it on the internet on Friday.

Obviously I'm joking. But not really so much. I am, however, really excited to go. I vow to do my best... I mean, when you think about it, these are my people, our people.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Trendy Knitting

According to Ravelry, the most popular patterns going right now are:

1. Monkey
2. Fetching
3. My So Called Scarf
4. Clapotis
5. Jaywalker

Odds are, you've knitted one of these. Or more. I've made Fetching twice. I started and frogged My So Called Scarf, Clapotis and Jaywalker.

Perhaps you strongly dislike one of these. There's always one of you in every crowd. Not me, I think they all rock!

And now I am an official Real Knitter because I finally cast on the Monkey. Not the toe-up knock off version, not the purl-free version. The pattern as written. Whoa.

The yarn is the beautiful Wollmeise Sockenwolle, in the color Pfefferminz Prinz... and it is hypnotizing me as I work it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Fiber Friday 1/4/08

It's the very first Fiber Friday of 2008 and I am excited to ring it in with a party yarn I spun back in June.

It's not the kind of yarn typically submitted for judging at County Fairs, which is exactly why I sent it in.

Yes, this is the "inconsistent" yarn I mentioned last Friday. This is the story of the time this yarn came to be.

Fiber Friday 6/15/07
It's been a year since my first Fiber Friday entry here on this blog. I had been posting on Craftster for longer than that, but let's stay focused. June is the month of my one year blogiversary!

I've been posting yarn on Fridays for one year! What have I learned? I take better pictures now.

This yarn here reminds me of "king cake" - you know that sweet stuff you eat in New Orleans around Mardi Gras? If I was really clever I would have worked some beads into it but I am only just now thinking of it.

Anyway, it's 205 yards, 3.2 oz. Hand dyed mill ends single with recycled sari silk.

Lesson of the day for Fiber Friday? Take your pictures outdoors and don't use the flash.

Happy Fiber Friday... Have some bright cake if you can. Otherwise something boozy and sweet I guess.

/end flashback.

Some things are more true now than ever, like the appeal of boozy and sweet.

You can see that the yarn took home a third place ribbon, which they arranged around the sloppy skein. I'm going to sound like a jerk, but couldn't they have put a few more twists into the skein before putting it in a glass case for millions of people to see?

I guess I'm still fussy about yarn photography. Anyway... Happy first Friday of 2008!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Very Bright Socks

Put on your shades! I don't usually wear bright things. I know I mentioned this when I started knitting these socks. Here is some crazy, nonetheless.

Pattern: I made it up as I went.

Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in color African Grey.

Needles: Knitpicks Harmony Double pointeds, US size 1.5 (2.5mm)

Pattern Review: I cast on 60 sts and worked 1X1 twisted rib for the cuff. Then did a 4X1 rib down the leg, eye of the partridge heel and grafted toe.

This is the entirety of the pattern I followed when knitting. The yarn is so electric that I didn't want anything to get in the way. I kept it simple.

Modifications: My "pattern" was perfect. I didn't need to "stray" from it!

Yarn Review: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock merino... lovely! There are a ton of colors available out there and I want to try more of them. Fortunately, I have some more in my stash so I will get to do this very thing.

I can tell these will be hard wearing socks. I knitted them with a pretty tight gauge and the texture of the yarn is solid... not overly soft but nowhere near scratchy. I like it!

Overall: Just, wow! They were fun to knit, they fit well, and I'm slightly frightened of them.

There is something in the colors that make me think of sports.

I don't know where I am going with that.

I do take pleasure in having secret crazy socks under the jeans. I also like knitting outside of the comfort zone. It's something I want to do more of.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Goodbye 2007, Hello 2008

=====Happy New Year To all=====
Originally uploaded by miracle moods

I saw this picture on flickr and got to use it here, thanks to a creative commons license. There is a poem with the photo, which you can see by clicking on it, but allow me the first line:

New years are a chance for a beginning
Even when there hasn't been an end.

2007? It was a mixed bag.

The Good:
My spinning improved. I taught kids to knit and spin. I had some knitting patterns published. I fell in love with sock knitting. The Tour de Fleece was great. I reconnected with the lovely and talented Brooke.

The Bad:
I started to get homesick for the great Northwest. I had some terrible jobs and quite a bit of unemployment.

The Ugly:
A big relationship ended. Some loneliness entered the equation.

Looking forward to 2008 I am excited about making a fresh start. I feel a little like that sprout coming out of the tree. I am perhaps too old for some of my dreams, but I can still grow. I am retiring some old ideas and adopting new ones.

The Plan:
I am moving to Portland in the spring! I am going to live the Good Life.

The Dream:
Expand my time and energy in the passion for all things fiber. Like, getting more patterns published, meeting more knitters, having more crafty adventures, etc.

I don't have to explain crafty adventures, do I?

The Real:
I have a lot of knitting to do if I'm going to make a dent in the ever growing sock yarn stash.